Sciadopitys verticillata
Common Name: umbrella pine 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Sciadopityaceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 25.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Best grown in moist, rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. Best in cool summer climates, and will appreciate some afternoon shade in hot summer climates such as the St. Louis area where it may struggle. May not be reliably winter hardy throughout USDA Zone 5 where it should be sited in a location sheltered from winter winds.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Sciadopitys verticillata, commonly called Japanese umbrella tree, gets its common name from the umbrella-like whorls of needles that grow at the ends of the branchlets and branches. Each whorl contains 20-30 soft, flattened, dark green needles (to 5” long) that radiate outward in a manner somewhat resembling the ribs of an open umbrella. In its native habitat in Japan, this evergreen conifer may grow to 90’ tall. In cultivation in the U.S., however, it typically matures to 25-30’ tall over many years. It is a very slow grower, usually attaining a height of no more than 4-5’ in the first 10 years. Japanese umbrella tree exhibits a dense, narrow, conical to pyramidal habit in youth, but tends to open up with age. Oval, erect fruiting cones (to 4” long) emerge green in the first year and ripen to brown in the second year. Attractive reddish brown exfoliating bark is usually well-hidden by the dense foliage. The needles that appear in showy whorls (verticillata meaning whorled) conduct photosynthesis for the tree, but are technically not leaves. The true leaves hug the branches and are small, scale-like and non-showy. A number of cultivars, including dwarf, semi-dwarf and pendulous varieties, are available in commerce. Although once included in the bald cypress family (Taxodiaceae) which is now merged into the cypress family (Cupressaceae), Japanese umbrella tree is now generally considered to be in its own family (Sciadopityaceae).

Genus name comes from the Greek words skias or skiados meaning umbel and pitys meaning a fir tree as the whorls of needles resemble the spokes of an umbrella or parasol.

Specific epithet means whorled for the whorled needles.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Specimen around the home. Rock gardens. Bonsai subject.